Clothes didn't make the man

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April 30, 2008|By LAURA VOZZELLA

If Anthony Brown ever gets his fill of politics, he might consider a second career as a tuxedo model. The lieutenant governor has already appeared, decked out in a snazzy penguin suit, in a magazine ad for Kustom Looks Clothier.

Makes sense, since the Landover haberdashery bills itself as "The Official Clothier for Prominent Professionals." Except for that bit in Maryland law that prohibits state officials from using the "prestige" of their office for private gain.

Brown spokeswoman Nancy Lineman said the lieutenant governor's office only recently became aware of the ad, which has run several times in Prince George's Suite magazine. Someone signing off as "a troubled state employee" sent a copy of it to the State Ethics Committee last week.

"The lieutenant governor bought a suit and tuxedo [from Kustom Looks] for his inaugural events," Lineman said. "He paid full price for those two items, and he did not give consent nor has he been compensated in any way for appearing in this ad. Our office plans to send a letter saying, `Please stop using the lieutenant governor's likeness.'"

Kustom Looks used a photo of Brown taken when he was being fitted for the tux, superimposing it on shots of two other celebrity customers: former Redskins running back Brian Mitchell and WJLA news anchor Leon Harris. None of the men was paid, said Kwab Asamoah, owner of the shop.

"We're trying to expand our brand," he said. "We generally use a lot of our clients in our ads. Unfortunately, we're not a company big enough for paid endorsements."

Asamoah said he didn't realize there were laws against using state officials in ads. Former Lt. Gov. Michael Steele, another customer, played "celebrity model" for Kustom Looks in a fashion show last summer. But Steele was out of office at the time.

"It was our mistake," Asamoah said. "We never ran it past him. This is the first I'm hearing there is some potential conflict of interest. ... I figured the lieutenant governor is so positive toward small business that he wouldn't mind helping us out."

Back in the day, things got done

News that William Donald Schaefer had moved to the Charlestown Retirement Community sent Larry Patterson, a former State Highway Administration employee, searching for a keepsake memo dashed off by Governor Annoyed back on Oct. 6, 1987. He found it in his basement file cabinet.

"I rode the Washington Blvd.," began the handwritten note to Richard Trainor, Schaefer's transportation secretary. "The center yellow line was laid by a person who was drinking or with poor eyesight.

"1. Who did the job.

"2. Have we paid for the work

"3. if not, hold up

"4. Report

"Schaefer."

The governor had traveled on a stretch of Route 1 near Jessup that was under construction, so the crooked lines were just temporary, Patterson recalled in an e-mail.

"Some people thought it was nitpicking," he wrote. "I did not. It was sloppy workmanship (temporary or not) and he was correct to call it out."

The staff got the message.

"He threw the note on Dick Trainor's desk," Patterson wrote, "and phones started ringing and pagers went off for about 3 days all thru DOT, SHA, and even the contractor that did the work."

Never underestimate that kid brother

Back when he was in high school in Newark, Del., Stephen Bartlett used to hang out a lot at a friend's house, and the friend had a precocious kid brother.

"He once got on a stool and stood and gave a speech and said he was going to be governor of Delaware," Bartlett recalls. "And it was, like, sixth grade."

Today, Bartlett is chief of surgery at the University of Maryland Medical Center. And the pipsqueak pol? He's Jack Markell, Delaware state treasurer and candidate for - you guessed it - Delaware governor. (He faces Delaware Lt. Gov. John Carney in the Democratic primary.)

Bartlett will host a fundraiser for Markell at his Cockeysville home tonight. (Co-hosts are O's owner Peter Angelos and real estate developer Stewart Greenebaum.)

"I just remember Jack giving that little speech," Bartlett said. "And that always stuck in my mind - `There's somebody who knows what he wants to do.' And now he's doing it."

Even a Democrat loves an elephant

Even in true-blue Maryland, an elephant occasionally outranks a donkey.

If the elephant is an adorable 340-pound baby, and the zoo has promised WBAL-TV that he'll make his debut in time for the Saturday morning newscast, the show must go on - even if the state's biggest Dem is running late.

So festivities at the Maryland Zoo in Baltimore got under way the other day without Martin O'Malley. The governor got there just before the elephant and his name, Samson, were unveiled, The Sun's Stephanie Desmon reports.

Even though he was running late, O'Malley took a second to grab a child dressed in an elephant costume out of the crowd and carry her to the front. He held her as he made his remarks.

"This is a good prop," he told zoo President Don Hutchinson.

The 1-year-old girl was Evangeline Enright, daughter of O'Malley chief of staff Michael Enright. The elephant outfit had been Evangeline's Halloween costume. Scariest thing those Dems could think of.

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